By John Lemon
Tulsa Okla. (December 10, 2018) – The 2018 AMERI-FLEX / OCRS awards banquet was held this past Saturday night at the Signs of the Times in Sapulpa Oklahoma and Alex Sewell was honored for his championship accomplishment in the 17th year of competition for the winged 360 sprint car series. Sewell received the coveted Harold Leep Championship Trophy for his achievement and he becomes the eighth different driver to be crowned in the series.
Sewell ran strong from the first race of the season at the Red Dirt Raceway by finishing 5th from an entry of 33 cars. Sewell scored in the top 5 in all but one event on the schedule and he collected 2 wins with those coming at back to back events. The first of those came at the Caney Valley Speedway in June followed by a trip to the Salina Highbanks a couple of weeks later.
“There are some really good drivers in the OCRS series,” stated Sewell. I’ve raced at different tracks and in different series around here (Oklahoma region) and I can honestly say that winning the OCRS championship has been the hardest thing for me to do.” Sewell went on to thank his sponsors, his team members, Ameri-Flex Hose & Accessories (series title sponsor) and his family for his championship success.
Last years champion Zach Chappell was acknowledged for his runner-up finish with Mickey Walker, Sheldon Barksdale and Joe Bob Lee rounding out the top five in points. Additional drivers that were in attendance that were called to the stage for their point fund checks and awards were: Shayla (Waddell) Sellers, Johnny Kent, Frank Taft, Perry Pickard and Alison Slaton. Car owner Larry Collins was awarded such honors as he qualified for point fund cash by having 3 different drivers compete in his car while making the required number of events to qualify.
As with seasons past, the major contributor to the series point fund was once again Tom Lorenz of Hoosier Southwest and Smiley’s Racing Products. Lorenz is also a key supporter of the annual Ameri-Flex Challenge event that began in 2015. The AMERI-FLEX / OCRS series is very grateful to all the support that is received by Lorenz and his companies.
Slaton was also honored as the 2018 Brodix Rookie of the Year in the series while Sellers was presented with a special acknowledgement award for her years of dedication and loyalty in participating with the AMERI-FLEX / OCRS Series. Sellers, who was just recently married to long time partner and series driver Shane Sellers in early November, previously announced her retirement from full-time driving.
Nick Newton, crew chief for Waddell Motorsports with Shayla and Alison as the drivers, was honored with the 2018 Crew Chief of the Year award. Newton now has the full inventory of the Waddell Motorsports race team in his possession and will operate the team as Nick Newton Racing from this point forward.
Corvan Robison of Ameri-Flex Hose & Accessories was acknowledged for his participation as the series title sponsor with a special award. Robison continues to support the series unlike any other before him and through his Ameri-Flex Hose & Accessories business, Robison always seems to do a little more each season. One example in 2018 was the 3rd running of the Ameri-Flex Challenge presented by Grand National Trailer. The event was slated to start 20 cars for a payday of $1,000 to start the main event and Robison kicked in more cash to expand the field to 22 starters.
OCRS also wishes to thank Dave Bohannon, Keith Sanders and Bryce Hall of the Salina Highbanks Speedway for their contribution and support of the Ameri-Flex Challenge event. These are super people to work with and the series is grateful for their support as well.
Other recipients during the awards portion of the banquet included:
Mechanic of the Year: Rob Forehand
Spirit of the Year: Joe Bob Lee
Sportsmanship of the Year: Frank Taft
Perseverance of the Year: Perry Pickard
York Plumbing Hardest Charger of the Year: Johnny Kent
Layne Himebaugh (not in attendance) was the 2018 Newcomer of the Year. Series president Barry Grabel accepted the award in Himebaugh’s absence.
The evening began with the traditional banquet dinner and just prior to presenting awards, Barry Grabel officially announced to those in attendance that he has sold the OCRS sprint car series to Kerry Gorby who also is the promoter of the Caney Valley Speedway in Caney Kansas. Grabel originally owned the series with Tom Sewell as his partner. The duo purchased OCRS from Kenneth and Saundra Walker at the end of the 2004 racing season and Grabel then purchased Sewell’s share of the series prior to the start of the 2011 season and now, after 14 years of holding drivers meetings and calling the shots, Grabel passes the torch to Gorby who informed the teams in a meeting earlier the same afternoon that there will not be any wholesale changes and that he looks forward to making the AMERI-FLEX / OCRS series the best it can be.
The AmeriFlex / OCRS series wishes to thank all of the 2018 sponsors who were instrumental in being a part of making the series successful for another season:
Ameri-Flex Hose & Accessories, Hoosier Southwest, Smiley’s Racing Products, York Plumbing, Grand National Trailer, Drive Shafts Inc, A-1 Machine Shop, Car & Fleet, David Grace & Carter-Maxwell, Wesmar Racing Engines, M&W Aluminum Products, Rod End Supply, Amsoil, H&R Block, Finishline Restaurant and Truck Lungs.
OCRS wishes to say Thank You to the fans for their support and loyalty in attending the racing events and to all the track owners and promoters that invite us to perform at their facilities and to all of our lap sponsors for the Harold Leep Classic presented by Carter – Maxwell. Each and everyone of you are just as important to the series as the full time sponsors that support us.
To the OCRS staff members who sacrifice their personal time and put forth the effort to make the series run smoothly and to all of the photographers that put in the labor and the hours to provide your craft to the racing community…. Thank you all for everything you do!
The 2019 AMERI-FLEX / OCRS schedule is coming together thus look for its release in the near future. The AMERI-FLEX / OCRS series is looking forward in having a successful 2019 season as we bring more exciting sprint car action to the racetracks!